Designer Luca Borsa on bringing fast thrills to MotoGP: The Board Game, co-created with Luca Bellini

Luca Borsa, MotoGP

Luca, it’s always great to catch up. You and Luca Bellini have designed Clementoni’s official MotoGP board game. How did the idea come about?
Well, we have a great relationship with Clementoni and we know Francesco Beradi, the R&D leader for board games there, very well. We presented him with a racing game – but it was an astronaut race, not MotoGP! He liked the mechanism in our game and told us that he had a licence in mind for it. Then one year passed…

One year!
Yes! A year passed and he called us up to say: “I now have the MotoGP licence”. So we dropped the astronaut theme and did it as a MotoGP game. The game features drivers that are racing in MotoGP today, like Enea Bastianini, as well as legends like Valentino Rossi. Clementoni believed it was not possible to make a MotoGP game without having Rossi in the box!

Ha! And does each driver have their own abilities in the game?
You can choose to play this way, yes. Each one has their own special power.

Luca Borsa, MotoGP, Sports, Toys & Games

Great. Now. can you talk me through the feeling of playing the game? What did you want to achieve?
Our main goal was for the game to capture the sensation of driving a motorcycle, but we didn’t want to create a ‘simulation’ type game full of rules and complexity. We wanted the game to be simple to understand and easy to explain to anyone. It’s a family game. That said, there is some tension in the game and you can be clever with your strategy. And using the different track pieces, you can actually create all the circuits from the real championship.

On that, most racing games feature tracks that have ‘spaces’ marked out on the board, but your tracks don’t have anything on them! Can you talk me through how the bikes move in the game?
Yes, our circuits don’t have ‘spaces’. Instead, players get these cardboard strips; some are longer than others. You use these to move your motorcycle. You place one of these strips in-front of your motorcycle, orientate it in the direction you want to move in, and then move your motorcycle to the front of the strip. It really affects how you enter corners or how you try and overtake.

Luca Borsa, MotoGP, Sports, Toys & Games

I can imagine. Very smart. What prompted you to do the track that way?
Well, as mentioned, our first version was a racing game with astronauts, and space is space! We had meteors that gave players some direction, but the openness of the track came from that first idea.

I love that the astronaut idea introduced something that actually suited the MotoGP racing theme really well.
We also introduced a simple dice. Many people think: “Oh no, using dice to move! Dice is lucky!” But in our game, the dice is used to determine which strip you can use, and each strip has different benefits or negatives. The longer strip is great for moving large distances on a straight, but it might not be ideal if you’re approaching a bend.

The basic strips are these four coloured ones, then we also have special longer strips that you can buy using ‘energy’ cubes. So if you roll a longer strip, you can only use it if you have enough energy. Some sides on the dice will give you a shorter strip, and some energy cubes. So we’re tried to balance things out.

Nice. And can you spend energy cubes on anything else?
Yes, you can also use them to buy cards. Cards give special moments. For example, a ‘Slipstream’ card can be used to get close to the racer in front of me. Or the ‘Full Throttle’ card lets you swap a strip for a longer one.

Luca Borsa, MotoGP, Sports, Toys & Games

And how have you tackled the issue of making this all feel fast? It seems like a tough aspect to convey in a board game.
Every turn, after you’ve moved using your chosen strip, you then immediately move a little bit further using a black strip. So each turn you have two movements, not one. This helps makes turns, and movement, feel very fast. You get through three laps of a track quite quickly… And at the end of the race, you sometimes get four or five motorcycles crammed together. Someone might overtake you at the final moment… It’s very exciting.

Sounds it! Are you a MotoGP fan? Or did you have to become one during the design process?
No, I was already a fan – I’m Italian! In Italy, there’s food, the seaside, the mountains and vehicles! Cars and motorcycles are in our DNA.

Racing is a very popular category of board games, from tabletop titles to simple kids’ games. What is it about racing that makes it such a compelling area for game designers?
It’s a good question! There’s a lot of racing games and I like a lot of them, from Speed Circuit to Formula D, VektoRace to Flamme Rouge… I think it fascinates designers because it fascinates players. One of the best games to do it is Snow Tails, with huskies racing across the snow. All the best ones really capture the sensation – and speed – of a race, and that’s an interesting challenge for designers.

Absolutely. Luca, this has been great. Before I let you go, you have another game on the way soon from Post Scriptum and HUCH! called Fruit Cup. What can you tell me about that?
Yes, it will be presented at Essen. I designed this with Luca Bellini and Stefano Negro. It’s a logic game. You have to make the right fruit salad for the Monkey King, but he has specific demands. He wants specific colours, shapes and other things. There are some very simple cards and some more difficult, but you must be faster than your opponents to prepare it.

Luca Borsa, MotoGP, Sports, Toys & Games

So speed is key?
Not only speed… You have to read his requests first, grab the right fruits, spoon them in your cup and put your cup in the first available slot… And sure, as fast as you can! The top spot is the King’s, and then there are five other animal slots available. Then we check everything. If you were fastest, and correct, you remain in the King’s spot… But if you made a mistake, you move to the last spot and the second fastest player moves up the chain and takes top spot. Then we check that player’s cup, and so on, and so on. Depending on your position on the chain, you get a certain number of points.

Luca Borsa, MotoGP, Sports, Toys & Games

It looks like a lot of fun!
It’s colourful, logical, quick and has a dexterity element too. We’re excited about it – and a big thanks also to Post Scriptum’s Mario Sacchi. He did a great job.

We’ll look out for it at Essen. Thanks again Luca – congrats on both MotoGP and Fruit Cup.

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